Jesus Christ Superstar is a difficult phenomenon to pin down. While many think of ‘the thing’ as a grandiose musical, it was born as a recording. While it is an account of an explicitly religious topic, the last week of Christ’s life to be precise, it does so from the unconventional and counter-intuitively sympathetic point of view of Judas. It is one part Rock, one part Opera; it is a conundrum and it is coming to the Metro Theatre this week.
The Metro Theatre’s incarnation of Jesus Christ Superstar is a return to form as it relies more upon the record than subsequent dramatic adaptations. As co-director Caitlin Gallupe explains, the seed of the idea was planted when she and her brother (Brooke Gallupe, who plays Judas) discovered the album in their parents’ record collection.
“It all started with the album; it’s such a good album. The guy from Deep Purple is the voice of Jesus and a couple of the others are from Joe Cocker’s band that played Woodstock… some legit guys. It’s interesting music and it is more authentic most musicals. My brother and I always thought we’d put it on strictly as a music event, but as we got into it we realized that the songs are really difficult. We figured if we were going to spend all that time learning the music, we might as well add a dramatic element…it just kinda snowballed from there.”
And snowballed it has. This year’s production features a cast and crew of over forty people, including set designers, dance choreographers, a choir and, of course, a band featuring members from Slam Dunk, The Chanterelles and Bankrobber. The show, which runs from April 19-21st, are be a testament to the close-knit community that has developed around its production.
“Some of the cast did theatre when they were kids, and some of them haven’t really done a lot before, but there is this overwhelming sense that everyone’s having so much fun, we’re all having such a good time.” co-director Marita Manson explains, “Everyone is making friends in a genuine way with people they’ve never met before… we’re doing something together, something really good.”
In all its contradictions, Jesus Christ Superstar inevitably poses a challenge for its audience. Those who come to see a story of Christ will stay for the music. Those who come in spite of the story might be surprised by the humanity of the age old tale. At $15 a ticket, we’re inevitably in for a lot more than we bargained for.